Lawsuit alleges negligence in fatal medical helicopter crash

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A wrongful-death lawsuit has been filed against an air ambulance company over a medical helicopter crash in snowy weather that killed the three central Ohioans on board.

The suit alleges Survival Flight and operator Viking Aviation inappropriately and recklessly accepted a flight request from an emergency care facility in Pomeroy in January 2019 despite deteriorating weather conditions.

The case was filed this week in Franklin County by the estate of Rachel Cunningham, a 33-year-old flight nurse from Galloway. Pilot Jennifer Topper, 34, of Sunbury, and another medical crew member, 48-year-old Bradley Haynes, of London, also died.

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that Survival Flight’s lax safety culture led the pilot to depart from Grove City without a thorough pre-flight weather evaluation. The helicopter crashed in rugged terrain near Zaleski, southeast of Columbus.

Survival Flight has said it learned from the tragedy and made changes recommended by the NTSB. In a statement in response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson didn’t specifically address the legal claims but said the company prioritizes safety and continues to improve.

The lawsuit also alleges negligence by the health company requesting the flight because it didn’t notify Viking that two other companies had rejected the assignment over weather concerns.

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